Charles Stanley – Two Kinds of Promises

 

Joshua 23:14

The Bible records two kinds of promises from the Lord—unconditional and conditional. An unconditional pledge is one whose fulfillment rests solely with God; His commitment is independent of people and situations. An example would be His covenant never to send another flood to destroy the entire earth (Gen. 9:11). No matter how the world behaves, He will not take this action again.

The second type of divine promise is conditional. In other words, the Lord is willing to act under certain circumstances. It’s often written as an “if-then” statement and involves our cooperation. Let’s look at three conditional promises involving salvation, forgiveness, and wisdom.

  • Romans 10:9 tells us that salvation is promised to those who confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord. We are saved when we genuinely trust in the Savior.
  • If we come to the Lord with sincere confession of sin, we have the assurance of divine forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9). The Lord’s fulfillment of this vow depends upon our obedient action.
  • James 1:5-6 instructs us to ask God for wisdom without doubting that we will receive it. If we approach the Lord with faith, then He will give us understanding.

God will do exactly what He’s promised. But He requires our obedient cooperation before fulfilling His conditional pledges. To receive the blessing, we must satisfy the conditions He has set. If you are waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promise, check to be sure you are carrying out your part.

Bible in One Year: John 6-7

 

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Our Daily Bread — Watchful and Alert

Read: Genesis 3:1–7

Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 27–29; Titus 3

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith.—1 Corinthians 16:13

My desk sits close to a window that opens into our neighborhood. From that vantage point I’m privileged to watch birds perch on the trees nearby. Some come to the window to eat insects trapped in the screen.

The birds check their immediate surroundings for any danger, listening attentively as they look about them. Only when they are satisfied that there is no danger do they settle down to feed. Even then, they pause every few seconds to scan the area.

The vigilance these birds demonstrate reminds me that the Bible teaches us to practice vigilance as Christians. Our world is full of temptations, and we need to remain constantly alert and not forget about the dangers. Like Adam and Eve, we easily get entangled in attractions that make the things of this world seem “good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen. 3:6).

“Be on your guard,” Paul admonished, “stand firm in the faith” (1 Cor. 16:13). And Peter cautioned, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

As we work for our own daily bread, are we alert to what could start consuming us? Are we watching for any hint of self-confidence or willfulness that could leave us wishing we had trusted our God? —Lawrence Darmani

Lord, keep us from the secret sins and selfish reactions we’re so naturally inclined toward. By Your grace, turn our temptations into moments of growth in Christlikeness.

The best way to escape temptation is to run to God.

INSIGHT: In Genesis 3, the serpent twists what God has said to Adam and Eve about the fruit in the garden. Rather than directly challenge what God has said, the serpent exaggerates the claim by asking if God commanded no eating from any tree (v. 1). This distortion on the part of the serpent elicits a similar response from Eve. Instead of responding with God’s own words (see the example of Jesus’s confrontation with Satan in the wilderness in Matthew 4), Eve adds to His words. After rightly correcting that it is only from the tree in the middle of the garden that they may not eat, she adds the prohibition that they may not “touch” the tree (Gen. 3:3). J.R. Hudberg

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Name Not Hidden

I frequently find the offbeat segments of the news a refreshing change of pace amidst the stories we call newsworthy each night. An amusing story about a recent college graduate caught my attention some months ago.

His name is Scott, a university student who had to wear a nametag for a seminar and decided on a whim to leave his nametag on for the remainder of the day. That night he calculated that he had met nearly twenty new people, had participated in many more conversations, and generally found that people, including himself, acted friendlier. So Scott decided to wear the nametag everyday. For more than nine hundred days now, he has silently announced to everyone near him: “Hello! My Name is Scott.” He is now convinced that wearing a nametag serves as a hospitable icebreaker, inviting people to open a door, indiscriminately encouraging an exchange among strangers, and generally reminding the wearer to be a more approachable person. Commenting on the use of nametags, author Anne Bernays notes, “It’s sort of like an invitation. People recognize that names are profound. It’s not just a nametag. It’s a signal they want to be friends.”(1)

Names are indeed profound. As the old hymn declares triumphantly, “Arise, my soul, arise! Shake off thy guilty fears. The bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears: Before the throne my Surety stands; my name is written on His hands, my name is written on His hands.” In this one magnificent verse, Wesley has impressed the truth of more than a few sermons. Our names are written on the hands of Christ. King David writes of this profound intimacy between God and his children in Psalm 139: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Continue reading Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Name Not Hidden

John MacArthur – Strength for Today – Proving You Are Wise

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:13).

Divine wisdom produces a changed life.

The one who possesses godly wisdom will show it in his life. That’s why James says, “Let him show by his good behavior his deeds” (3:13, emphasis added). The phrase “let him show” is a command to demonstrate one’s wisdom and understanding. That is the thrust of James 2:14-26, summarized in verse 26: “Faith without works is dead.” A person’s claim to have faith will be validated by his works. Similarly, James is saying that if you claim to be wise, you need to demonstrate it. From God’s perspective, wisdom is made manifest by the way a person conducts his life.

How will a person show he has true wisdom? By his “good behavior” (3:13). The Greek word translated “good” means “lovely,” “beautiful,” “attractive,” “noble,” or “excellent.” The term translated “behavior” speaks of one’s lifestyle or activity. If a person truly has divine wisdom and living faith, he will show it by his good conduct and excellent lifestyle.

James becomes specific when he says, “Let him show by his good behavior his deeds” (v. 13, emphasis added). He is focusing on the details. The wisdom of God alters not only your general conduct, but also what you do specifically. Every act within a person’s life is consistent with how he conducts his entire life. If it’s a life based on the wisdom of God, each aspect of his life will reveal that. The general pattern of his life and the specific things he does will reflect the work, the way, and the will of God. Take time to examine your life and see whether your conduct proves that you possess the true wisdom of God.

Suggestions for Prayer

A wise person will manifest good behavior. Read Psalm 119:33-40, making the prayer of the psalmist your own.

For Further Study

Your conduct will reveal whether you’re living wisely. What do the following verses say about how you should live: Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Peter 2:12; and 2 Peter 3:11?

 

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Wisdom Hunters – Persistence Invites Persecution 

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45, NLT

When stress begins to drizzle down and dampen my soul, or anger bubbles up in my heart—I am almost certain to be in a mode where I am focused on a person or circumstance that is out of my control. Why would I try to harness another person’s heart and seek to change them, anymore than I could attempt to guide the weather into conditions pleasing to my desires? It’s my heart that I’m expected to monitor and make better under the influence of God’s grace and love. If I let go of controlling the uncontrollable—I can work on the stubbornness of my own wandering heart.

Jesus describes our heart as a treasury of good and evil, a repository of abundance for good or bad. For example, a healthy government treasury is full of resources necessary to invest in opportunities and to step in during times of crisis and calamity. So it is with a healthy heart. Instead of being jealous of another’s success or angered by pride—we can store up in our hearts: humility, forgiveness, acceptance and love. In collaboration with Christ, we daily invest into His righteous treasures and over time the compounding interest of gracious words flow from our heart.

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63).

Has not getting your way caused you to lose your way? What started out as feeling slighted has grown into a combative posture of full blown rejection. Maybe at work you have run into a rough spot and there needs to be clarity around your expectations and your supervisor’s expectations. Because of the warp speed pace of your work, your boss may have assumed they clearly communicated their changes to you—but they didn’t. Big decisions require all involved to slow down and understand each other. Respectful, candid conversations invite the team’s influence.

Continue reading Wisdom Hunters – Persistence Invites Persecution 

Today’s Turning Point with David Jeremiah – Embrace Your Trials

 

Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

Hebrews 5:8

Recommended Reading

Hebrews 12:1-11

Young people are often surprised when they hear an elderly person say, “I learn something new every day.” Even more surprising is when young Christians discover Hebrews 5:8—that Jesus Christ had to learn obedience. We have the impression that because Jesus was God He didn’t need to learn anything. We forget that as Man, He identified with us in learning to trust God in times of difficulty. His learning could be thought of as “perfecting,” as Hebrews 5:9 suggests. In His suffering, Christ didn’t learn something new. Rather, He proved (perfected) His obedience to God the Father.

The same path Christ took has been laid out for all who follow Him. James 1:2 doesn’t say to be joyful “if” we encounter trials but “when.” The apostle Paul wrote that difficulties are part of the road we take to being conformed to the image of Christ, our ultimate glorification in Him (Romans 8:28-30). If Christ had to prove His commitment to the Father by obedience and trust, and if we are on the same path, we must surely do the same.

Don’t resist the trials in your life. Embrace them as opportunities to prove your faithfulness to God in all things.

The Christian is more formed from his trials than from his enjoyments.

William Jay

Read-Thru-the-Bible

John 3 – 4

 

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Joyce Meyer – Let the Holy Spirit Guide You

For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide [even] until death. —Psalm 48:14

Often when my husband, Dave, and I travel, we hire a guide to show us the best and most important sites to see. Once, however, we decided to explore by ourselves; that way we could do what we wanted to, when we wanted to.

We quickly found that our independent trips were nearly wasted. We often spent a large part of the day getting lost and then trying to find our way again. We have found it to be the best use of our time to follow a guide rather than wandering aimlessly to find places ourselves.

I believe this example relates to how we are in life. We want to go our own way so we can do what we want to do, when we want to do it, but we end up getting lost and wasting our lives. We need the Holy Spirit guiding us through every day of our time on this earth. God is committed to guide us even until we leave this life, so it seems important to learn how to hear what He is telling us.

The Holy Spirit knows both the mind of God and God’s individual plan for you. His road map for you is not necessarily like anybody else’s, so it doesn’t work to try to pattern your life after someone else or what he or she has heard from God. God has a unique plan for you, and the Holy Spirit knows what it is and will reveal it to you.

Perhaps you are like I was and have wasted many years walking your own way without seeking God’s guidance. The good news is that it’s not too late to turn and go in a new direction—toward God’s plan and purpose for your life. It is not too late to learn how to hear from God. If you are sincerely willing to obey God, He will guide you on an exciting journey of learning to hear from Him every day of your life.

Trust in Him: Following a guide requires trusting someone or something other than yourself to lead the way. God will never fail you, so you can trust Him to be your Guide in life.

From the book Trusting God Day by Day by Joyce Meyer.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Girlfriends in God – From a Nobody to a Somebody

Today’s Truth

When Jesus saw her, He called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’

Luke 13:12

Friend to Friend

Have you ever wondered if God even knows your name? Have you doubted His concern about what you are going through? Have you felt totally alone and worthless? I have. I can really relate to the woman described in Luke 13. Oh, our problems may not be exactly the same, but the feelings and emotions are – and so is the answer.

Jesus knew this woman. He knew she had been sick for 18 long years and that she had tried everything to be healed. He knew – but He looked past her pain and saw who she really was. He could have called her by name, but instead He said, “Woman.” Jesus included her whole identity in that name – her past, present and future. He knew every detail of her life, and He loved her. And just as He loved this broken woman, He loves you.

This woman had been assigned an identity by the relentless illness that plagued her body. Anyone who knew her identified her by that illness. I imagine she felt unwanted and unloved – like a nobody. But when Jesus saw her, He looked at her through different eyes and called her to Himself. With one word from Him, everything changed. All of a sudden, she was somebody.

There she stood, sick and in pain to the point that she was completely doubled over. Imagine what she felt when she realized that Jesus was talking to her. He was calling her – an outcast. And when she heard His voice, she heard the voice of love.

Continue reading Girlfriends in God – From a Nobody to a Somebody

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – Judging the World

“For He has set a day for justly judging the world by the man He has appointed, and has pointed Him out by bringing Him back to life again” (Acts 17:31).

Why does God command men and women to repent? And why does He expect you and me to relay His message to them?

The answer is simple: because “He has set a day for justly judging the world.” And if people refuse to be penitent and thus become pardoned, they must be condemned.

“Justly,” of course, can be interpreted: “according to the rules of strict justice.” And who will do the judging? The man God has appointed – His only Son, Jesus Christ; the one He has pointed out to us clearly by bringing Him back to life again.

Jesus, you will remember, declared that He would judge the nations (John 5:25,26 and Matthew 25). God confirmed the truth of those declarations by raising Him from the dead – giving His sanction to what the Lord Jesus has said, for surely God would not work a miracle on behalf of an imposter.

What comfort and help can you and I receive from these truths today? Surely, this is a reminder that God is still on the throne; He is in control; nothing is going on in the world without His knowledge and consent.

Further, we are reminded of God’s justice, which assures us that He will always do right in behalf of His children. That falls right in line with Romans 8:28, of course, which concerns all things working together for our good.

Bible Reading: Psalm 9:7-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: World turmoil will not upset me, for I know the God who sits on the throne – and who rules over all

 

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Ray Stedman – Let God Be God

Read: Romans 9:14-21

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. Romans 9:14-18

I do not know how you react to that, but it is clear what it says. It does not say that salvation is based on human effort choice — it is God who chooses. The ultimate reason for God’s choice of anyone is that he chooses whom he wants. This is the truth about God which people dislike the most. We must face the fact that God is a sovereign being. He is not answerable to anyone. We don’t like that, because to us sovereignty is always connected with tyranny. To trust anyone with that kind of power is to put ourselves into the hands of someone who might destroy us. We fight that in our national life, we fight it in our family life and we fight it in our individual relationships. We do not trust anyone with absolute power over us. It is no wonder that when we are confronted by a God with absolute power, we are troubled by this. But if God had to give an answer to anyone, that person to whom God had to account would really be God. The very core of God’s nature is that he does what he pleases. What we must do is get rid of the idea that his sovereignty will be destructive to us. As we will see, his sovereignty is our only hope!

God declares his own sovereignty. God says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion (Exodus 33:19). Moses was an example of God’s choice to bless someone. Who was Moses that God should choose him? He was nobody; a murderer and a fugitive from justice, who for forty years lived in the desert. But God chose him and made him his messenger and gave him a name that was known throughout history. Why? God chose to do so.

Continue reading Ray Stedman – Let God Be God

Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Where Are You?

Read: Genesis 3:8-15

But the LORD God called to the man . . . “Where are you?” (v. 9)

As God came looking for them, Adam and Eve turned and ran the other way! “And the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (v. 8).

How do you picture this? I think of a toddler holding his hands up in front of his face and saying, “You can’t see me!” Did Adam and Eve really think they could hide from God, that trees and shrubs could shield them from the searching gaze of omniscience? Did they really believe they could escape from the presence of the One who is always present everywhere?

The first time God speaks after the fall is to ask a question of his hiding children: “Where are you?” I suggest that this is not a request for information. God is not trying to locate Adam and Eve because somehow he has lost sight of them in the bushes.

God questions Adam and Eve not in order to gain a fix on their location but to offer an invitation. God is opening a conversation with them. In other words, he wants to communicate with them. “Communicate” comes from the same root word as “communion.” What God is really saying is, “What have you done? Where have you gone? Tell me. Confess to me. Return to me.”

In reaching out to a lost world, God always has the first word.

PRAYER:

Here I am, Lord. Speak to me.

Greg Laurie – A Forgotten Hero

So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”—Acts 9:17

A discovery every Christian eventually makes is who their real friends are. That is a discovery Saul of Tarsus made when he first became a follower of Christ. He had no real friends, but what he did have was a brother in Christ named Ananias. And in time, he would discover a whole new family.

Charles Swindoll, in his excellent book, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, writes, “Ananias has been called one of the forgotten heroes of the faith. Indeed he is. There are countless numbers of them serving Christ behind the scenes the world over.”

You see, with such men as Ananias doing their part, Saul could now do his. Acts 9:20–21 tells us, “And immediately [Saul] began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is indeed the Son of God!’ All who heard him were amazed. . . .”

They couldn’t believe that Saul of Tarsus was not only a believer, but now a preacher. And Saul quickly found out who his true friends and enemies were: “After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him” (verse 23).

God had been preparing Saul. Saul was ready for this job assignment. He was raised in a Roman city. He understood the thinking of the Roman mind. He was steeped in Greek culture, yet he was raised in a strict Jewish home. He was a powerful thinker and communicator. And now he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He was a force to be reckoned with.

Ananias had never preached any sermons that we know of. We don’t know of any miracles that were performed through his hands. He never wrote an epistle. But he reached a man who did all of those things and much more. And if we had more Ananiases, we would have more Pauls.

 

https://www.harvest.org/

Kids 4 Truth International – God Is Listening

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1)

Imagine spending an entire day with a tape recorder strapped to your back so everything you said could be recorded. If you argued with your mom, it would be on the tape. If you lied, your lie would be recorded on there, too. If you complained, those words would also become part of the tape.

If there really were a tape recorder with you all day, would you think twice before speaking?

Well, guess what! You are heard by something (Someone!) far more powerful than any tape recorder. God hears everything you say – which can be a good thing, or a scary thing.

When you are upset or frightened, and you call out for help, God hears you. Psalm 34:17 says, “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” You can be sure that God will always hear you and take care of you. Even above the noise of a crowd, or even when you are alone, or even when you “call out” silently, your voice can be heard by God.

You can also be sure that God hears you when you sin. Every lie, every mean thing, every insult you say is heard by the God of Heaven. God is omniscient – which means that God knows everything. That is how great our God is! Nothing is hidden from Him.

What would it be like to spend a day with a tape recorder on your back? You may never know. (Let’s hope you never know!) But you can know for sure that you do have a God who is listening – so be careful what you say!

God hears more than just our prayers – He hears everything.

My Response:

» Do I think carefully before I speak?

» How can I show with my words that I believe God is omniscient (knows everything) and that He also hears everything?

 

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The Navigators – Jerry Bridges – Holiness Day by Day Devotional – Two Standards

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 22:40

“On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Have you thought about what it means to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, NIV)?

Here are a few obvious aspects: you seek fellowship with him and long to gaze upon his beauty (Psalm 27:4). You rejoice in meditating on his Word and rise early to pray (Psalm 119:97; Mark 1:35). You always delight to do his will (Psalm 40:8). A regard for his glory governs and motivates everything you do (1 Corinthians 10:31)—eating and drinking, working and playing, buying and selling, reading and speaking, even driving. You’re never discouraged or frustrated by adverse circumstances because you’re confident God is working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). You’re always content because you know he’ll never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

Or look at what Jesus called the “second” commandment: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, NIV). Among other things, this would mean that you never show selfishness, irritability, peevishness, or indifference in your dealings with others. You take a genuine interest in their welfare and seek to promote their interests, honor, and well-being. You never regard them with prideful superiority or talk about their failings. You never resent any wrongs they do to you, but instead are always ready to forgive. You always treat them as you would have them treat you.

Do you begin to grasp some of the implications of what it means to obey these two commandments? Most of us don’t even think about them in the course of a day, let alone aspire to obey them. Instead we content ourselves with avoiding major outward sins and performing accepted Christian duties. (Excerpt taken from The Gospel for Real Life)

 

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The Navigators – Leroy Eims – Daily Discipleship Devotional – Bringing up the Future

Today’s Scripture: Deuteronomy 3:21-28

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. – 2 Timothy 2:2

Do you know many people who are living with the next generation in mind? Probably not. Most of us have more than we can handle today without worrying about those who come after us.

It would seem that Moses could have been caught in the same trap with all he had to do, but he wasn’t. For years, he had been investing his life in a young man named Joshua. After Moses knew that he would not enter the Promised Land, and new leadership would be needed, we find him on his knees before God, asking God to make it clear who should take his place.

When Moses prayed, God pointed to Joshua as the new leader of the people. Joshua had already proven himself a man of courage in his battle with Amalek; he was a man of humility, having spent many years as Moses’ servant; and he was a man of faith, one of two men who had brought back a good report from spying out the Promised Land. Joshua was described as a man “in whom is the spirit.”

It has been said that “success without a successor is failure.” In the midst of your present Christian endeavors, are you training someone to continue that ministry? That’s what parenting is all about. And by the way, our children are one of our greatest opportunities for developing disciples of Christ for future years.

You and I have a great responsibility to pray for the succeeding generations of leaders for the work of Christ, that His work might flourish and advance long after we are in our graves. It all depends on which generation you’re living for.

Prayer

Lord, I pray for the young people in our Sunday school classes and youth programs. May we teach, nurture, and love them into leadership positions for Your kingdom. Amen.

To Ponder

Who is the next-generation person you could invest your life in?

 

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BreakPoint –  Religious Liberty Bestowed by God or Government: Understanding the First Freedom

Does anyone in politics really understand what religious liberty is all about? On the one hand, many on the left (including the head of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission) see it as a thin veneer to promote discrimination.

But many on the right don’t get it, either. For instance, I recently attended, along with some other religious leaders, a meeting with Donald Trump. It quickly became clear that to Trump and many of his staffers, religious liberty just boiled down to two things: The freedom to say “Merry Christmas” in public, and repealing the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing political candidates.

But neither of those things addresses the real challenges to religious freedom today. The choice we face is whether we will be able to order our public lives according to deeply held convictions. Or if, in the name of public accommodation, everyone has the right to demand services, language, and agreement—even if providing them violates our conscience.

For example, how should we treat county clerks who do not wish to authorize so-called same-sex “marriages” based on sincerely-held religious beliefs? What about bakers, florists, and photographers, for whom facilitating homosexual “marriages” would involve them in sin? Sad to say, many local governments, even judges, think these people should be forced to provide services while violating their beliefs, First Amendment or no First Amendment, conscience or no conscience.

These conflicts raise age-old questions about the role of government, the value of religion, and the challenges of living in a diverse and free society.

In his important book, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom,” Ryan Anderson notes that “part of the genius of the American system of government is its commitment to protecting the liberty of all citizens while respecting their equality before the law.” Among other things, the government protects our right to “live out [our] convictions in public life. Likewise, citizens are free to enter into contracts and to form associations according to their own values.”

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Religious Liberty Bestowed by God or Government: Understanding the First Freedom

Moody Global Ministries – Today in the Word – RATHER THAN WORRY, SEEK FIRST GOD’S KINGDOM

Read MATTHEW 6:31–34

In The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap, John Koessler considers today’s passage: “We feel the weight of anxiety because we have placed our trust in the wrong thing. We depend on the means of production. Or we rely on the things that are produced. Jesus says all these things come from the hand of God. . . . [Worry] is the thinking of people who see themselves as orphaned. Such anxiety is the anguished cry of a soul that has forgotten it has a Father in heaven.”

In this sense, seeking God’s kingdom is supposed to be restful. Worry and anxiety, on the other hand, are stressful. Today’s passage begins with “So,” meaning “therefore” or “as a result.” Because worry is useless, and because God provides, we’re commanded not to worry (vv. 31, 34). We’re not to be obsessed or anxious about food and clothing, and by extension, material things or the future in general.

Two additional reasons are given for us to obey this sensible command (v. 32). First, worry characterizes pagans, not worshipers of God. Unbelievers do not have the security of a loving, all- powerful Father. They spend their lives depending on themselves and chasing lesser things. We should act differently. Second, God already knows what we need. Worrying is a kind of behavior that acts as if He didn’t—which, when you think about it, is (again) ridiculous.

What should we do rather than worry? Jesus says there is something worth being obsessed about: the kingdom of heaven (v. 33). We’re commanded to seek it above all else. This means to strive for the rule or reign of God in our lives and communities (Matt. 6:10). Along with that, we’re to seek “his righteousness,” meaning we’re to strive to live the righteous life God desires. “His kingdom and his righteousness” go hand in hand!

APPLY THE WORD

The Radical Pursuit of Rest, by Moody professor and Today in the Word contributing editor John Koessler, offers wonderful guidance for those who desire God’s kingdom and want to take to heart Jesus’ words: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28, 30).

 

http://www.todayintheword.org

Denison Forum – The World Series, Amelia Earhart, and the presidency

According to the latest Rasmussen poll, the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is tied. Each has 44 percent support among likely US voters. Among those who could change their minds, the two are tied at 36 percent each. And so the most contentious campaign in memory continues to trouble, fascinate, and polarize Americans.

Meanwhile, Game 7 of the most-watched World Series of all time is tonight. We want to know if Chicago can win the title for the first time since 1908, or if Cleveland will win for the first time since 1948.

And USA Today is reporting on new evidence supporting the theory that Amelia Earhart died as a castaway on a remote island. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery says they have found evidence that Earhart made more than one hundred radio transmissions in the days after her plane went missing. They also claim that a partial skeleton discovered in 1940 on the island of Nikumaroro (located between Hawaii and Australia) could belong to Earhart.

The aviator disappeared on July 2, 1937, over the Pacific Ocean. It’s been nearly eighty years since she disappeared—why does her story still generate headlines today? I did the math: only 3.5 percent of the current American population was old enough to know her story when she vanished.

What do Amelia Earhart’s disappearance and this year’s World Series have to do with today’s political news?

Continue reading Denison Forum – The World Series, Amelia Earhart, and the presidency